What’s My Brand?
Walking the Talk of your Image
Posted April 2, 2016
Recently, I went to a women’s entrepreneurs workshop with a professional financial and business advisor who was literally jumping up and down and dancing back and forth. I watched her while trying to keep a straight face, but my raised eyebrows gave me away. (Especially when she had the group of us dance with her.)
In a follow-up coaching conversation she mentioned that hypothetically, if she were going to be my client I would need to “pump it up.” Pump it up? What does that mean? Is she kidding? Cheerleaders pump it up and I am sooo far from that in my natural being and in my professional calling I barely understand the term pump it up. I work with people in organizations who are dealing with change, negotiations and conflict who need me to be calm and centered. I have spent my entire professional life trying to perfect this demeanor and pumping it up is so far from what I believe would serve them well I am still reeling from the thought of it.
This did however, cause me to pay more attention to branding. What is the image I put forth and is this in alignment with the perceived effectiveness of my work? I have been informally assessing the way brands are framed. I wondered if it is in alignment with the way the brand was intended to be perceived and the impact it has on its target audience?
There are different concepts in branding to consider. One is brand personality and five dimensions are identified by Aakers: sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication and ruggedness. Aakers’ work was focused on consumer goods and I am thinking of applying this to people. The type of brand personality we are attracted to in others is probably influenced by what we think they can accomplish for us or what we can accomplish together. Then we look for that particular personality type.
Another concept is the use of color. There have been studies done that show color alone may or may not evoke certain emotions and that color choice for a brand works better in alignment with brand personality. I guess purple would not communicate ruggedness as much as brown nor black communicate excitement as much as red.
I decided to think about my brand and what I wanted to project. I named the first words that came to mind that described the essence of my brand personality. For me this is who I am and not a surface image I am trying to portray. This is important because it shows the integrity of the brand.
- Bold in “naming what is happening” and not shying away from potentially difficult conversations.
- Opportunity in seizing the moment to make something happen or be a part of something interesting.
- Compassionate because I care about others and want to support them by providing access.
- Learning since there is so much to know, growth and development are part of what sustain me.
- Humor because come on, without it life would be way too difficult and boring (speaking from a non-cheerleading, rather sarcastic perspective).
This is my brand personality. They are very related to my values in how I believe the work I do connects with others. In order to have this brand be effective in the work that I do I need to “live the brand.” This means that the behaviors I exhibit, the ways in which I communicate and the actions I take all need to be consistent. When they are consistent they are believable and stronger. This clarity also fosters trust and feelings of knowing what you will get when you engage with me. There should not be any ambiguity or unexpected actions because I live my brand and that is how I am known, no major surprises, one that can be trusted.
In the world of branding there is another concept referring to red and blue oceans. According to Holt and Cameron in their book Cultural Strategy, red oceans refer to markets that are crowded with competitors and brands make incremental changes. Blue oceans, on the other hand, are when brands craft value innovations that are future-oriented and do not have direct competitors.
Now it is your turn. What is your brand?
- Think about the words that come to mind that best describe you.
- Identify the behaviors you have that support this choice of words.
- Ask your clients and colleagues to do the same and see if they align.
- Ask yourself if the brand you have best serves the career you want to have?
- How can you be a blue ocean?
Holt, D. & Cameron, D. (2010). Cultural strategy: Using innovative ideologies to build breakthrough brands. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.